How hard is to follow Jesus Christ? Have you ever ‘followed him a distance?’ The Apostle Peter did.
‘They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law came together. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.’ (Mark 14:53-54)
The previous hours had been a time of highs and lows in the spiritual life of this ‘loyal’ follower.
#1. Peter had watched a woman break a jar of expensive perfume and pour it on the head of Jesus. Her devotion had raised the indignation of the observers. Would his?
#2. Peter had watched his Master take bread, break it, and give it to his followers. He had eaten the bread and he drank the cup as he visually had symbolized the Lord’s impending sacrifice. Did he understand Christ would die for his sins?
#3. Peter had been invited to go with the troubled Son of God into the heart of the Garden of Gethesemane. He had privileges that 9 others didn’t. He had access. How well did he use this privilege?
#4. Peter had insisted publicly on the strength of his commitment. Would he have taken a ‘selfie’ (if smart phones were available) and noted his conversation with Jesus in his journal?
BUT #5. Peter had slept with the group of sorrow-exhausted disciples. Jesus had woken him and pressed him with his sleepiness and inability to ‘watch’ when called upon to do so. Why was he left speechless by the questions and statements of Jesus?
#6. Peter had deserted Jesus along with the entire apostolic band. (Side question – What did Judas think of their departure?) Why had his ‘commitment’ evaporated like vapour into the night air?
It is no wonder that he ‘followed him at a distance.‘ The gap was widening and the true condition of his heart was being revealed and would be later embedded into the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus.
But lest we throw modern stones at an ancient Bible character, let’s query our own commitment. Today’s Twitter feed, breaking news items, shocking ‘revelations’ depict the lurking sin in the lives of too many. Our sin might not ‘make the news,’ but we need to own up to our heart’s true condition. I’ve been reading I John 1:5-2:2 recently where claims about sinlessness and sinfulness are matched up with the amazing provisions of the light, the blood of Christ and the truth as God declares it. “If we claim…” is used three times to call us out yet invite us in–into the amazing joy of sins forgiven, of conscience cleansed, of right standing restored with our God.